Getting your backyard chickens ready for winter

I really hope getting your chicken coop prepped for winter isn't an issue for you! If it isn't....that means you live somewhere warm. That sounds so nice. Here in western Pennsylvania it snows a good deal. I also get what they call "lake effect snow" because of the moisture in the air over lake Erie. Even my friends down in Pittsburgh have it easier then I do, so getting the whole chicken farm prepped for winter is essential!

Today we have about 3" of frozen snow (when it rains on top of snow, then freezes and snows again. Yeah, that mess!) and it's only 11 degrees this morning! Yuck! The chickens hate it, I hate it...and now I'm playing catch-up and getting the coops winterized and the chickens ready for the cold. So come along and join us while we chip ice, insulate, re-group and get ready for winter!

prepping | backyard chickens | winter

Chicken Keeping in Winter

First thing I did today was swap out the traditional waterers for heated water bowls. We use these inside the bigger coops. We also put a water heater pan under them to protect the wood floor in case of spills. We've found that the all seasons heated poultry fountains work well when left outside. The d'Uccles have one outside their coop. All the summer waterers get emptied out and put on the outside sink to be washed when it hits 60 next week. it's 11 in 4 days it will be 60. It's so confusing.

coop | backyard chickens | preparing for winter

Next up was the relocation project. The grow out pen is not the hardiest of winter coops. Oh, it stays dry and draft free, but there's not much room in there for full grown chickens (and it's too cold out there for chicks) 3 almost-adult Marans were brought up to the guinea coop to spend the winter. This makes around 30 guineas and 6 chickens in that coop. 

Why would I put chickens in the guinea coop? First of all, they had the room. Secondly, guineas don't scratch and dig as much as chickens do. Scratching in the litter is essential when using the deep litter method. If they're not turning the litter then I have to. I'd rather they do it, so I added some chickens to do the dirty work. Plus there's no electric to the grow out pen coop which means no heated waterer. There's also no windows to let in light which means I need to leave the door open every day even when it's freezing. The guinea coop has 2 windows and an automatic pop door, so they can be out or in....whatever they want.

After that I worked on insulation. We had insulated the inside of the guinea coop last year, but the little buggers had pulled a few holes in it! I fixed those with duct tape. Then I stuffed towels in the ventilation holes by the roosts of the main coop. I talked about that last year: Blocking winter drafts in the coop. Towels make an excellent temporary insulation in coops like this, especially in weather like ours. In the summer those vent holes are absolutely necessary for night time (and rainy day) air flow. In the winter though, they let too much cold air in especially when we get those awful winds! So I blocked those up. The trick here is to block out excess drafts, while still leaving some ventilation. 

That should do it! Luckily I had drained the hose lines to the coops and outdoor sink last week when it was still warm out. The only other thing I can do now is shovel some pathways in the snow so the chickens can come out and play. Some of them just hate stepping in snow. Silly buggers! Hope you and your flock are staying warm!


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1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop!
    Hard to believe that winter is soon upon us!